Wednesday, August 13, 2014

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8).

Last weekend, my eldest son married a lovely young lady. The meticulously planned for event was over in what seemed the blink of an eye. As I watched Joel express his love and commitment to his bride, scenes from the past filled my mind. I saw Joel as a chubby, babbling baby boy, then as a toddler with wild blond hair, and expressive, dark brown eyes as he ran in circles with unrestrained energy. The silly humor of his elementary years turned into a serious shyness in high school. College and graduate school brought new images to mind as Joel worked hard to acquire skills preparing him to work as an engineer. I was both sad and happy as I recollected these fleeting memories.

In a similar vein, I evaluated the quandary of time after the death of both of my parents. My siblings and I made poster boards displaying photos of our parents at various stages in their lives. I recall my bewilderment as I scrutinized the summation of a life displayed on one large piece of cardboard. I wonder at the uncontrollable passing of time.  I wanted, this past weekend, to slow events down and savor each moment of the happy occasion. During painful experiences on the other hand, I yearn to speed up events and move on to better times.

Solomon, in Ecclesiastes, reasoned that everything in life happens in its appropriate season - death, birth, planting, plucking, laughter, mourning, etc. Every event is a component of our earthly existence, and we learn how to grapple with both joy and sadness through our experiences. Paul encourages us to aim in the present to ascertain and understand the purpose God has placed in our paths and strive to follow His guidance in making the best use of our time:

I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained (Philippians 3: 12b-16).

I want to take hold of the purpose Christ places in my life right now. I will often fail in this endeavor, but I aim to make every effort to pick myself up, brush off the dust and try again. We have much to look forward to in the future if we live for Christ and press on toward the goal of living life in service to Him.

Dear Lord: I ask you to help me use my time wisely. Like Paul, I will not always obtain my goals, and I will frequently make poor use of my time. Yet, you forgive me and love me despite my failures. Be with me as I press on to follow your example and grow in faith in You.

In Christ's Name. Amen

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